Public vs. Private School Thesis

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¶ … public vs. private schools. Parents, educators, and even politicians have joined the debate regarding public and private schools. Legislators have created legislation hoping to equalize the educational experience and millions of families homeschool their children or send them to private schools to avoid public schools at any cost. However, which type of school experience is better for children and their future? Studies indicate that situation, location, and even individual students and their characteristics weigh heavily in these decisions.

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Public education has a long and varied history in America, and it began, at least in some areas of the country, almost as soon as colonists arrived and established towns and villages. Some religious sects, such as the Quakers and the Mennonites, created their own, religious school systems, many southerners educated children at home, and in New England, small, "reading and writing" and "dame" schools were established, mostly in homes, and mostly to teach the Bible and some writing skills. Boys were the most commonly educated, many girls were educated at home, as well (Mitchell, and Salsbury 2-3). "Latin schools" that modeled their curriculum after similar schools in Europe, where more of the colonists had originated. Boston Latin School, founded in 1635, is supposed to be the oldest school in the country, and it is still in existence today (Mitchell, and Salsbury 4). Public education grew, until it was required by Federal law, and every state in the union supports multiple school districts for grade levels kindergarten through 12 and beyond. For a time, public education seemed to be taken for granted in this country, but as schools become more crowded, receive less funding, and seem have grown far less safe and secure, many critics point to private schools as the answer to the problems with the public schools. Just what are those problems, and do they affect all public schools?

Thesis on Public vs. Private School Assignment

There are many reasons to send children to public schools. The most obvious for many Americans may be that they are largely "free," even though parents often have to pay for expenses such as school supplies, textbooks, and even uniforms in some cases. Even with these costs, the cost of public education is miniscule when compared with the costs of a private education, and for many people, they simply cannot afford private education even if they desire it. Private education is usually extremely expensive, making it out of reach more many poor and even middle-income families.

Another compelling reason to consider public schools are the strict standards that govern teaching throughout the nation. In each state, public school teachers must be licensed, and they must keep those licenses current by continuing their education throughout their careers. Author Boland continues, "According to a major study from the National Center for Education Statistics, public school teachers tend to be more qualified than their independent school counterparts in terms of education and experience" (Boland). Because teachers in the public school system are monetarily rewarded for continuing their education to the master and PhD. levels, they often complete more education than private school teachers, who are not so heavily regulated or rewarded as private school teachers are, and that can mean a difference in teacher quality between public and private schools.

Studies also indicate that students in public schools spend more time studying the subjects that matter, such as math, reading, and science, than private school students (Borland). This means that students from public schools may actually be better equipped, in many cases, for college with the fundamentals under their belts, and for applications in the real world. Private school curriculums may not match some university requirements, as well, so public schools, at least in some areas, may prepare children better for their future.

In addition, public schools, just by their size and funding, sponsor more extracurricular activities that are often extremely important and motivational to their students. Athletics is one area that comes to mind, since most private schools do not have large budgets for Athletics, and even if they did, it would be difficult to create leagues for competitive play between private schools, since there are usually far fewer private schools than public schools in most communities. Sports is an important outlet for young people, and public schools often offer after school programs in sports, but also in other academic support areas, and even latch-key programs for children whose parents work. They tend to offer more public assistance programs for low-income children, such as school lunch programs, and even health and safety programs that give back to the community.

Multi-culturalism is also an important issue in the public schools. Depending on zoning laws and communities served, many public schools contain a majority of immigrant or non-native born students. Students who attend private schools, which are largely segregated by monetary income and neighborhood, often do not offer the same ability for children to blend with children of other cultures, and learn about their lives, beliefs, and society. Another writer notes, "A private education is usually out of reach for poorer students, which means that it's less likely to introduce your child to children of various races and socioeconomic backgrounds" (Boland). This lack of experience can make children less tolerant of others and more elitist in their attitudes throughout life. Three other authors put this even more strongly. They write, "For our students to better understand the diverse country and world they inhabit, they must be immersed in a campus culture that allows them to study with, argue with and become friends with students who may be different from them" (Rothman, Lipset, and Nevitte). Experiencing different cultures, lifestyles, and belief systems is important in the overall development of children into adults, and many private schools simply do not offer these rich cultural experiences to their students.

Finally, it is interesting to note that public criticism over public schools and their funding is not only a modern social dilemma. Criticism of America's schools began in the 19th century, and centered on funding issues, teacher quality and pay, and even criticism of the compulsory attendance laws that surfaced during the time (Mitchell, and Salsbury 27-29). Thus, it seems that American public schools have always come under fire, and there have been private schools and homeschooling almost since the American educational institution was first formed in this country. Public schools serve a vital purpose in the nation's communities, but many people do not believe they can compete with private schools on any level.

Private Schools

While there are many advantages in a public school education, there are several that highlight the private school experience, as well. Most people know that public schools are often terribly underfunded and overcrowded, and private schools often have a definite advantage, there. Private schools depend on their tuition for their funding, and private schools in elite areas can charge high tuitions that ensure high-quality educational experiences, such as smaller classrooms, smaller, safer schools, and a more intimate experience for children in the educational environment. Statistically, private schools tend to be safer than public schools, as well. Another Web site notes, "Many public schools have perfectly safe environments, yet in some school districts, children may be safer in private schools. Some of this may have to do with the fact that private schools may pick and choose who they enroll, therefore keeping their classroom milieu safer" (Editors). Some public schools located in poverty-stricken areas are notorious for their unsafe environments, and so often, private schools offer a more intimate, safe environment that is more conducive to learning for their students. Again, it is important to remember that in the worst public schools, children do not have the option of choosing private schools, and have no other alternatives than the unsafe schools in their school zone, another consideration about private schools. They serve the entire community, rather than one small part of a district, and so, children have more choices in private school attendance.

Another very important difference between public and private schools in the level of parental involvement, which tends to be much higher in private schools (Boland). Many parents who can afford to send their children to private school also can afford to have one parent at home, rather than working, and so, they have more opportunities to support the school and its activities. This can only add to the intimate educational environment of many private schools. Students may feel more of a social connection with the school, as if they "belong" there, and because of this, they may be more receptive to the entire educational experience. It is difficult for many two-parent working families, or single-parent families to create as much parental involvement with their children's schools, however, many public schools do provide many more parental programs during off-hours, such as nights and weekends, to help encourage all parents to become as involved in their children's educational experience as possible.

In most private schools, there is far less bureaucracy and administration to deal with, as well. Because they do not… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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